Billy Morrison - Circus Diablo
Circus Diablo Interview with Billy Morrison
By Barbara Fara
MI: How did you come up with the name Circus Diablo?
Billy: It was the first name we came up with. We then spent a month driving around houses coming up with sillier and sillier names and not getting anywhere and then we realized that Circus Diablo was, you know, a freak show, it’s where I’ve always felt I belonged – the devil’s circus. It had a good ring to it, good imagery…so…
MI: What’s your favorite track off of the album?
Billy: Well, it would have to be a toss up between the single, Loaded, which is an immediate introduction to Circus Diablo, and I think Mad Parade is also one of my favorite songs as well.
MI: Now, you guys have a Myspace account, don’t you? Do you think that Myspace has helped push the album further than if it were not around?
Billy: Umm, I won’t know that until the album comes out.
MI: And when are you planning for it to come out?
Billy: It’s released in North America on July 3, Japan in August, and Europe in September.
MI: And are you excited?
Billy: Of course I’m excited. It’s been a year of my life putting the album together and watching it all click into place. So, come July 3, I will be a happy man.
MI: So who is in the band with you?
Billy: On the album, there’s me singing, Billy Duffy on lead guitar, Ricky Warwick from The Allmightys on rhythm guitar, I actually played a bass on the album, and Matt Sorum on drums. Our live line up is slightly different because obviously Matt is quite busy with Velvet Revolver and Camp Freddy. So we have Charles Ruggiero on drums who played in Brett Scallion’s wife’s band; Brett Scallion, who is the singer of Fuel and is now the singer of Rider’s On The Storm, he’s playing bass guitar. We also have Rob Patterson who was in Korn for the last two years; he is playing lead guitar when Billy Duffy is busy with the Cult. So it’s a decent lineup.
MI: So you’ve got a lot of big names in there.
Billy: Yeah, this is a modern day approach to rock and roll. We have a revolving lineup going on right here because everyone is busy with about five other projects. That doesn’t mean that Circus Diablo falls by the wayside, we just shuffle the cards a little bit and it’s not a side project – it’s a major concern.
MI: The album itself is really beautiful. What do you want people to know about each member of the band, their little dirty secrets…
Billy: I think most of our dirty secrets are all out there and have been for about 15 years. I mean I can’t think of a dirty secret that…well, you know, I don’t know, I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but my dirty little secrets are out in the open, but if I had one, it’s the frozen yogurt from Angelina’s on Santa Monica Blvd. (laughs) Everything else has been on the web for ten years.
MI: Who influenced you vocally?
Billy: That’s an interesting question. That’s the first time I’ve been asked that. The first band that ever turned me on, properly, was the Sex Pistols. I would obviously have a little Rotten in there because I’ve been listening to them for what, 25 years? They were the band that changed my life. Also thrown in there is a bit of Liam Galligher. I love the Oasis boys, you know. There’s a little bit of Scott Weiland in there. I like his melody and his tonal quality. But I think if you mix those three together, then you’re getting somewhere.
MI: Well your voice is just incredible on the album.
Billy: I have to tell you something: when we recorded the album, there was no auto-tune in the studio. They didn’t own auto-tune. So the vocals that you hear on the album are the vocals I sang. In this day and age, that’s a heavy thing, because today it’s on every single record, but not on ours. We like to be able to play our instruments and actually sing.
MI: Tell me about the most memorable show you’ve ever played live.
Billy: Well main stage Reading Festival with The Cult, in 2001, was pretty special to me. That was 100 thousand people. I think Madison Square Gardens with The Cult was a huge milestone in someone’s career, to be able to say they’ve played at the Garden, and I think playing on a rooftop in Times Square with Camp Freddy...watching the police shut down Times Square while we play 100 feet in the air – that might rank as an all time number one. That was pretty special.
MI: What is the most fucked up thing you’ve ever seen on tour?
Billy: (laughs) I have many fucked up things in my time, a lot of them not on tour. On tour, what happens on tour should stay on tour. So I’m going to respect the ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ thing. The 5th amendment I believe you call it.
MI: Who do you think the 5 greatest vocalist of all time were/are?
Billy: I think Robert Plant just, you know, was one of the most amazing singers I ever heard. I think you have to go along way to beat Johnny Rottens attitude in the Sex Pistols. I think Adam Ant was one of the craziest, most talented and misunderstood front men as well. There’s a lot. I think Brandon Boyd is a fantastic singer and musical talent and I think Ozzy Osbourne is possibly one of rocks greatest frontmen.
MI: do you see yourself getting on Ozzfest this year?
Billy: We ARE on Ozzfest.
MI: And you’re gonna get me in, aren’t ya?
Billy: Yeah, probably. (laughs) It IS free.
MI: Where do you get your musical inspiration from - for your writing at least?
Billy: For my lyrics? Drug abuse. (laughs) years of drug abuse and loose women.
MI: So what do you think about the legalization of marijuana?
Billy: You know what? I actually believe in it. I think there would be way less crime if drugs were actually legalized so that people didn’t have to buy them from the black market.
MI: How did the death of Dimebag Darryl affect you guys?
Billy: Dimebag’s death brought it home to everyone who stands on a stage just how fragile that situation is. I think it was a complete tragedy, a complete waste of life and talent and a big wake up call to everyone who feels a sense of power and rage and all of those emotions that we get when we stand on that stage – you know what? You’re a target, you are absolutely a target. I think it was a shame. Very sad.
MI: How did 9/11 affect you?
Billy: Well, I was on tour with The Cult. We had just played Madison Square Gardens in New York and we weren’t in New York at the time but it blew my mind. I actually got to go to Ground Zero pretty quickly afterwards and again it’s a very sobering thing. It brings your own mortality and your own insignificant problems to the forefront of your mind.
MI: Do you think the American news is more honest than overseas news?
Billy: No. I think if you believe for one moment that what you are seeing on the news at 11 at night is a truthful collect of facts, then you need to go the library and read some books.
MI: If the band could design a new memorial instead of the one that they are putting up in New York, if you could design anything else, what would the band design?
Billy: I wouldn’t deign to think we could design something better than what they have done. We are not designers, we are musicians. We create music.
MI: What do you think of the US involvement in the Middle East?
Billy: I think you need to listen to a track on our album called Commercial Break where there is a line, “Your fascination with military masturbation/open Pandora’s box and then run away.” That basically tells you my feelings.
MI: What single album do you think had the greatest influence on your life?
Billy: On my life? God Save The Queen by The Sex Pistols. No question. The day I heard that I realized that music and art could actually make a statement against politics, make a difference. I watched that single go for number one, and be denied that spot even though it sold the right amount of units to get it.
MI: What’s your opinion of George W. Bush?
Billy: I have no opinion on George W. He is the man in the seat right now, but guess what – there will be another man on the seat very soon. I stay as far away from politics as possible because I think its all rubbish.
MI: Between the MTV that was around when we were young and the MTV now, what do you think has changed?
Billy: Wow, well, I think the MTV that’s around now has forgotten that the guitar can actually be very cool. If you turn on MTV now, it’s all hiphop. And don’t get me wrong, I love hiphop. I’ve played with Xzibit, I’ve played with a lot of hiphop guys, I dig that shit. They’ve decided that rock music is uncool and the programming on MTV is aimed at 14 year olds.
MI: Do you think the Osbourne’s show should come back on the air?
Billy: Ozzy and Sharon are personal friends of mine, and I speak to Ozzy quite a bit during the week and I think it was great fun. It was pure entertainment.
MI: Do you think it should come back?
Billy: No, because I think that got over putting their whole life on TV for everyone to see. But they did it, and they were the forerunners of that sort of thing and now they don’t need to come back, because everyone else is doing it.
MI: If you driving in your car right now, what would be playing in your CD player?
Billy: I would be playing a new album by a band called The Wolfmen, which is a guy called Marco Pirroni from Adam and The Ants – he’s the guy that wrote all their songs. He sent out an advance copy of the album, and that’s what’s in my cd player right now.
MI: Do you see yourself eventually opening up your own studio or your own label?
Billy: Well I actually have my own studio. My own label? I do, yeah. I would like to help younger bands, produce them, and help them get their records out. So yeah, maybe one day I will do that.
MI: If you were God for a week, what would you change?
Billy: Well I have two answers, and you have to put them both. My first answer - which is the real answer - is I wouldn’t change a thing because god obviously knows what he’s doing way better than we do. But for the purpose of having some fun, what would I change? I’d change the pain and suffering in the third world and on our own streets. I would change the admission prices to gigs to zero, and I would change the amount of money spent on Hollywood blockbuster movies. (laughs) I don’t know, I’m fucking rambling.
MI: If there was a movie made of your life, who would you want to play you and what would the theme song be?
Billy: Oh jeez, Johnny Depp would be my ideal me, and the theme song would be either “The Man Who Sold The World” or “Rock And Roll Suicide” both by David Bowie.
MI: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Billy: I’m a huge James Bond fan, so I like all the James Bond movies. I think my most favorite of all time would have to be the original Italian Job, with Michael Caine.
MI: Who would you consider to be your heroes as a kid?
Billy: Well, I was very anti-hero growing up, so I didn’t really have heroes. Again, I looked up to The Sex Pistols because they showed me that we can do anything. William Burroughs was a big hero of mine. And also there was a band called Psychic TV who inspired me to do a lot of things musically.
MI: What do you think was the best thing to ever happen to rock and roll?
Billy: That’s a hard one. I think Led Zepplin was probably the best thing to happen to rock and roll. I think a combination of Led Zepplin and Black Sabbath.
MI: What would you warn any young band that is just starting out in this business that is sitting down with a major or indie label?
Billy: What would I warn them? If they are sitting down with a major label get out fast and run in the other direction. And if they’re sitting down with an indie? Make sure you’re not in this game to earn money. Make sure you’re in this for the heart. You have to think laterally. You have to make your own opportunities now.
MI: Do you believe in psychics? Have you ever had a psychic experience?
Billy: I don’t know that I’ve had a psychic experience, but I’ve seen ghosts. In fact I was shooting a movie in a haunted hospital last month and we were taking digital pictures on the 5th floor which was the psychiatric ward that was abandoned in the 1770’s and when we were taking pictures, the digital camera showed nothing out of the ordinary, but when we got outside there was all this weird shit on the pictures, orbs and crazy energy stuff.
MI: What is the website?